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Thread: Self-centering bits

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
    Posts
    311

    Self-centering bits

    Does it matter which self-centering bit brand you get when precision counts? Prices range from $8 to $50 for what looks like the same three sizes.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Suffolk, Va.
    Posts
    208
    Probably not much. I use Snappy and they seem to be good. There are some out there where the tapered centering part is wider and they don't fit in the hinge holes so you just have a drill bit. Snappy works well but you have to buy special bits that seem to snap easy. I will follow this thread and maybe learn something.
    Michael Dilday
    Suffolk, Va.

  3. #3
    Snappy works well for me also. No need to buy a $50 set when a $20 set will do the exact same thing. I've broken a bit or two with the Snappy but have always just replaced the bit with an everyday ordinary bit.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    North Virginia
    Posts
    340
    I have found that the center drill bits break easily with cheaper Vix-style bits. So I went on ebay and bought a fist-full of the sizes I use regularly for my Brusso hinges.

    TedP

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Between No Where & No Place ,WA
    Posts
    1,118
    A few projects back I needed to use a self-centering bit. Couldn't find the set I had and the dealer only had an inexpensive set. Bough the set and it was one big mistake!

    On plunging, the bit would hang up -- just spin in place, then it would not retract or clear the chips. Finally the set screw holding the bit no longer functioned. Then I experimented with the other two bits, same problems. Tossed them into the metal recycling container and ordered a set of SNAPPY Bits. The SNAPPY worked like a charm! Should have delayed the project and ordered the SNAPPY at the very beginning.

  6. #6
    I have an old set (no idea what brand) and the drill bits have a flat ground where the setscrew tightens to hold the bit. They work great as long as I add an occasional drop of oil to lube the spring loaded part. I bought another set recently (maybe dewalt?) because I wanted some with the hex drive and my old set had round shanks. The bits in the new set don't have flats and I find I have to frequently tighten the setscrew or the bits spin inside the holder. Next time I need to use them I will grind a small flat and see if that helps.
    --Certainty is the refuge of a small mind--

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    20,129
    As long as the bit depth is adjustable and the bit is replaceable I would land in the middle of the pack somewhere. The Rocklers that I picked up on sale in 2002 for cheap are still going strong. When their bits dulled I just replaced them with some name brand bits. As long as the clearance around the bit is minimal so that things actually center, you're good.
    "What kind of chump do you take me for?"
    "First class."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
    Posts
    311
    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Phillips View Post
    I have found that the center drill bits break easily with cheaper Vix-style bits. So I went on ebay and bought a fist-full of the sizes I use regularly for my Brusso hinges.

    TedP
    “Cheaper Vix-style bits.” The 3-piece Vix set is $38 today. You’re saying you bought more expensive bits on eBay?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
    Posts
    311
    The comparable Snappy set can be had for $23 plus shipping. I ordered the Vix set today due to the similar price, but I might have received the Snappy set from Woodcraft sooner. Everything is in the air these days.

  10. #10
    I've found the biggest difference between price points is longevity. The cheap ones have garbage springs and thrust washers. These wear out and stop doing what they were designed to do. The spring gets twisted and ceases to retract the bit. At that point its just a drill bit with no centering function. Also, the better ones are machined to tighter tolerances and center better, but I've found this to be negligible.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Upland CA
    Posts
    4,578
    I have two sets. My first set was by Vix, which I believe was the original mfg. The second set has no brand name on it, and was bought because it had hex shanks.

    I looked them over recently, and found a few differences. The Vix set has stronger springs, as mentioned earlier. The off brand comes apart easier, but I have not needed to change bits yet. I prefer the Vix.

    The biggest difference I see is that the bits in the Vix have a much slower twist, and larger channels for the chips to follow, which means they don't clog as much as the off brand which uses regular twist bits.

    I imagine the newer Vix have hex shanks, but don't really know for sure. Mine must be 20 years old.

    Good tip on oiling them a bit.

    I read another tip a while back on cleaning out the clogs by running the bit up and down in a larger hole to clean the flutes. Pictured below is a little fixture I made up for that purpose. It works pretty good. Just stick the running bit in the 3/16" hole and run it up and down a couple times. I keep it handy when drilling. Works great on hardwoods, pine still clogs some.



    IMG_20200405_002526194.jpg



    Poor pic quality. The three top holes are the three sizes of Vix bits, which give me a visual to be able to judge which size to use. The hole at the bottom is 3/16" drilled all the way through, for cleaning out the flutes as mentioned above.
    Last edited by Rick Potter; 04-05-2020 at 3:56 AM.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michiana
    Posts
    1,694
    I've been using this set from Rockler for 10 years. They do what they're supposed to.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Clayton , North Carolina
    Posts
    133
    I wish they made one size smaller. Made several boxes with small hinges and the smallest size was too large for the screws.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Arlington, TX
    Posts
    139
    Not sure about other brands, but Snappy tools are made in the USA. I don't have their self-centering bits (yet), but I do have their countersinking and normal hex-shanked bits, and they perform very well.

    -- Andy - Arlington TX

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northern Michigan
    Posts
    476
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas L Carpenter View Post
    I wish they made one size smaller. Made several boxes with small hinges and the smallest size was too large for the screws.
    I too have been trying to find one a size smaller for small hinges and such. Really surprised no one seems to make this.

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